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‘Dear White People’ flips the script for Black America

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According to the film “Dear White People,” movies are not catered to a black audience in the way they should be. Reggie, played by Marque Richardson, stated, “so basically we’ve got black people dying in the past and black people dying in the present.” In this film, nobody dies. Instead, they embrace life in a series of events during a semester on campus.

The film focuses on four students at an Ivy League college called Winchester University.  Sam White, played by Tessa Thompson, is the child of a black mother and white father, which plays a lot into her character. She is the star of a radio show called “Dear White People” and her friends decide that she is the one who needs to lead them to equality on campus. She is elected as the leader of all racially-charged events and Head of House, which creates conflict with Troy.

Brandon P. Bell plays Troy Fairbanks. His father is the dean of Winchester University and has been in battle with the current school’s president since they were both in the university together. Troy is thrown into the middle of this feud when his dad expects him to win Head of House and he loses to Sam.

Tyler James Willams, known from the TV sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” plays an aspiring journalist named Lionel Higgins. Lionel has a hard time fitting in because he does not believe he is black enough or white enough. He falls for the editor of his school’s newspaper, which may not have caused an issue if the editor was not also a man. Lionel has to write a profile piece on being African-American at Winchester University while also trying to discover what that means.

Finally there’s Coco who is played by Teyonah Parris. She parodies Sam’s show on YouTube and turns it into videos about what white people need to understand about black people. She goes into detail on how one girl asked her if she “weaved” her hair. One video spends its entirety trying to explain that it is called a weave. She’s an interesting character because she fights against being black while all of the others embrace it.

“Dear White People” talks a lot about stereotypes towards black people, but is not driven solely by race. Each character has conflicts and flaws that do not rely on race. That’s something that makes it truly special. It is not a film about white versus black, but instead a film about being human.

Overall “Dear White People” was a beautifully written satire. Writer and director Justien Simien made each section as a chapter in a book. This not only added a unique take, but also made it visually appealing. None of the actors are well known and that adds to the experience of the film. They each played their roles wonderfully. This is a film that can speak to people of all shapes, sizes and colors.

 

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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University
‘Dear White People’ flips the script for Black America